Like so many industries worldwide, film and TV have been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sweeping self-isolation mandates have shuttered productions and postponed theatrical releases. Amid the projected $20 billion in losses, Hollywood has been trying to figure out how the show will go on in the immediate future.
And there seems to be trend that could lead to a new genre in itself.
Two projects are currently underway with one common thread: they were both filmed in quarantine.
While there have been music videos and side projects of the same ilk, En Casa and The Agoraphobics Detective Society represent major studios and producers dabbling in creating stories from the confines of home.
En Casa (At Home) is a five-part anthology series from HBO Europe that will feature shorts from Spanish filmmakers. According to The Hollywood Reporter, each episode will answer questions including:
What would happen if your boyfriend left you the morning the confinement was announced? Could being quarantined at home be a brutally liberating experience? What if isolating with your partner makes you see they are not who you thought they were? Is it possible to travel in this context without leaving the same room? What would it be like to live this experience in a commune with seven friends?
In addition to the themes of self-isolation, the filmmakers shot their episodes from wherever they’re currently isolated with only the people they’re with as their collaborators. (HBO has not announced when the series will be available in the States.)
Meanwhile, producer Maggie Monteith has corralled an ensemble cast including Brian Cox (Succession) and Claes Bang (The Square) for The Agoraphobics Detective Society, a whodunnit about a group of patients who come together to track down a renowned psychiatrist who’s disappeared. While the eight-part series doesn’t seem to revolve around self-isolation, the actors filmed their parts in such environments, which ultimately was an experiment in storytelling. As Monteith told Deadline:
“The logistics of filming where people are sheltering in place was the toughest logistics problem to solve outside the mystery of international time zones. A bespoke solution was found for each actor, according to their phones, laptops and computers. A combination of downloadable apps and enhancements, and help delivered in the form of props, wardrobe, hair and makeup products and tech items, made it possible to get usable takes.”
The Agoraphobics Detective Society will premiere on the site of Monteith’s production company Pinpoint Presents with a call to viewers to donate. Proceeds will go to U.K. and U.S. film and TV freelancers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the effects of the COVID-19 have been nothing short of devastating, it is heartening to a certain degree to see creative projects come out of such dire situations. Most have been homespun, but En Casa and The Agoraphobics Detective Society could signal a shift for bigger names and budgets to pump more into this filmed in quarantine genre.